Jean Cocteau Repertory will present George Bernard Shaw's revisionist views of Julius Caesar's famed romance with Cleopatra in Caesar and Cleopatra. The show plays in repertory with Loot and Winterset, Jan. 17-March 26, 1999. Shaw, who didn't start writing plays until he was almost forty, was a firm believer in socialism, which he consistently championed in his plays. His ideas of theatre's potential to change society lead him to champion what he dubbed "significant drama." In keeping with this methodology, in his position as a drama critic he routinely trashed Shakespeare as a playwright while lionizing Ibsen. Plays by Shaw include such classics as Arms and the Man, Pygmalion, Major Barbara and Candida.
With Caesar and Cleopatra, Shaw took a famed historical personage (also depicted by Shakespeare) and treated him as an ordinary man who possessed extraordinary common sense. Unlike Shakespeare's tragic hero point of view, Shaw's Caesar conquers Egypt with force and manipulation while tutoring its teen-age queen on the use of power.
Founded in 1971, Jean Cocteau Repertory uses a resident company of actors to bring American and European classics to Off-Broadway. The company is located in the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in New York's East Village. In May, the company will travel to Brazil to perform its 1996 production of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Jean Cocteau Repertory's production of Caesar and Cleopatra by G.B. Shaw, runs Jan. 15 - March 26, 1999. For tickets or more information, call (212) 677-0060.
-- By Sean McGrath